Millbrook takes on improving Colonels

The James Wood football team gave Millbrook everything it could handle when the Pioneers won 24-8 last year at the Colonels’ Kelican Stadium.
With James Wood coming off a performance in which it rolled up almost 400 yards of offense and led 23-17 early in the third quarter against Liberty before losing 32-23, the Pioneers (5-2, 2-1 Class 4 Northwestern District) could have their hands full again at 7 p.m. tonight on their field against the Colonels (2-4, 0-2).
“I think [James Wood has] improved this year, and over the past year,” said Millbrook coach Josh Haymore, whose team has won three straight in its series with James Wood to take an 8-7 all-time lead. “I like Coach [Ryan] Morgan. He’s done a good job over there. He has disciplined kids, and the kids play hard. They’ve been in every game except for one [against Sherando].
“You see the offense running smoother and smoother each week. They’re taking advantage of what the defense is giving them, and in my eyes, as an offensive play-caller, you can’t ask the kids to do anything else besides that. Hopefully you’re making the right call to put the players in the right spot, and he’s a done good job of that. Defensively, they make really good adjustments to the teams that they’re playing. They try to stay in the same defense, and it’s really adjusted to the strength of what the offense is. They don’t give up many big plays. They do a good job of keeping everything in front of them and making you play a perfect offense.”
Despite the loss, Morgan said the effort against Liberty was the team’s best of the season, citing that ability to make adjustments that Haymore referenced.
“Liberty has good size up front and they’ve got some speed,” Morgan said. “I think we kind of limited some of our mental mistakes. Ultimately, we did a good job for the most part when we were running the ball. Having success earlier in the game, the kids were picking up their assignments, generally doing what we were supposed to do. The last few minutes of the game when we had to pass the ball, we struggled, but we fixed some of our blown assignment issues from two weeks ago.”
Morgan thinks that performance against Liberty and last year’s game against Millbrook should help with the team’s mindset tonight. The Colonels were within 16-8 in the fourth quarter last year against the Pioneers, and on a wet field, they kept the explosive attack from having any play go longer than 26 yards.
Millbrook comes into tonight with another explosive offense. The Pioneers (40.3 points per game) are averaging 399.9 yards per game after compiling 485 yards in last week’s 36-28 win over Handley.
Haymore said Millbrook wide receiver/defensive back Jordan Jackson will play tonight after missing the Handley game, so the Pioneers hope they can play 48 minutes at full strength for the first time this season. Haymore said slot player Savon Smith was still working his way back into game shape when he suited up for the first time this season against Kettle Run two weeks ago and Jackson (17 catches for 219 yards and five TDs) did not finish that game because of injury.
Millbrook’s offense also features Noah Robinson (26 carries for 266 yards and two TDs last week, 812 yards and 10 TDs on 91 carries this season), Gavin Evosirch (735 yards and 12 TDs rushing; 539 yards and 10 TDs passing) and Kaden Buza, who started and received the majority of snaps at quarterback while sharing the duties of the position with Evosirch last week.
“They do a lot really well,” Morgan said. “We have to make adjustments to both of their quarterbacks if they’re going to play both of their quarterbacks [with Buza more of a pocket passer and Evosirch more of a running threat].
“We’ve got to tackle better [than we have]. We tackled a little better last week than we did against Hedgesville [three weeks ago, prior to the off week]. But Noah Robinson is a big dude at 215 pounds, and he can run through a lot of tackles. They’ve got some speed, too. We’ve got to continue to improve what we worked on during our bye week as far as our tackling and swarming to the football.”
James Wood’s wing-T attack features three running backs who have rushed for more than 300 yards in William Crowder (43 carries, 420 yards, four TDs), Sam Adkins (51 carries, 351 yards, four TDs) and Jackson Turner (73 carries, 325 yards, five TDs).
Crowder had 132 yards and a touchdown receiving on passes from quarterback Carson Hoberg (510 yards for the season last week) in addition to 85 yards and a TD rushing.
Millbrook had some trouble on defense on a wet field against Kettle Run two weeks ago, and the Pioneers’ field could be wet tonight. But Haymore said that had more to do with the Pioneers’ approach as opposed to the conditions.
“I think we’re getting better as defense,” Haymore said. “We didn’t have very much linebacker play [against Kettle Run], and they took advantage of us playing back on our heels instead of us attacking.
“I think against Handley we did attack a little bit more. We’re going to have to show up [tonight]. There’s no doubt about that.”
— Contact Robert Niedzwiecki at
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Follow on Twitter @WinStarSports1